Category: Festival Authors

Five minutes with Deb Hunt

Five Minutes with Deb Hunt

English born Deb Hunt has been a librarian, teacher, event manager, PR executive, actress and journalist. She has worked with Shakespeare in the Park in London, Australian House & Garden magazine in Sydney and for the past five years as a writer with the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Her memoir,  Love in the Outback, reveals Deb’s experience of discovering an unimagined land and true love far from the green fields of home.  Her latest book, Australian Farming Families explores what it is that binds Australians to the land. Travelling tens of thousands of kilometres, Deb met farming families who are challenged every day by the weather, economic ups and downs and isolation and yet remain passionate and determined.

Deb is joining us at the 2016 Batemans Bay Writers Festival in September. We spent five minutes with Deb to find out a little more about her.

Deb-Hunt

The summary of your 2014 memoir, Love in the Outback, goes along these lines: “The true story of a tree-hugging vegetarian from a small English village who gave up a job she hated, stopped stalking a man who wasn’t interested and moved to Australia to work for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.”  What were some of the culture shock moments in that transition that make you laugh now?

I had so much to learn about the Outback. A single property in Australia can be the size of several English counties so it can take a couple of hours to drive across. I could never admit that I used to stop for a nap mid-way through a two-hour drive in England. That was considered a long way! I remember one time I found a mouse at home in Broken Hill so I captured it, thinking I might keep it as a pet or maybe release it. Then I heard about an epic plague of mice causing havoc in town, so I kept very quiet about the one I’d tried to save. And until I lived in Broken Hill I’d never heard of anyone having all their teeth removed when they got married. Apparently it saves having to visit a dentist.

love-in-the-outback

Before you came to Australia, did you have any idea of what the RFDS was and how important it was to outback life?

My only understanding of the RFDS was through watching that old TV series about the Flying Doctor from the 1970s and I’ve learnt so much since about the incredible work they do. I fully appreciate that tyranny of distance now, which is an ever-present threat in the Outback. I had no idea how vital the service is for survival in rural and remote areas.

Your experiences in rural Australia have also led to a collection of true stories called Australian Farming Families. Is it possible to sum up what you learned from them about life on the land?

I learnt it takes grit and determination to be a farmer in Australia. It’s not a question of if disaster strike, it’s when. Farmers, graziers and pastoralists cope with drought, fire, flood, debt, disease and the invasion of pests on a regular basis. Add to that the lack of schools, hospitals, dentists, libraries, shops, mechanics and all the other services the rest of us take for granted and you begin to understand how hard it is to operate in a remote area. Yet the people I interviewed wouldn’t live anywhere else; they’re passionate about what they do.

australian-farming-families

Where to next with your writing? Are you sticking with non-fiction or is there a novel lurking in there?

I love non-fiction but I’ve always been an avid reader of fiction so right now I’m exploring an idea for a novel – set in the Outback of course!

We’re so looking forward to welcoming you to the 2016 Batemans Bay Writers Festival. But what are you looking forward to when you visit in September?

You’ve got a great line-up of speakers so I’m looking forward to hearing as many as I can. Tim Fischer was influential during his time as Chairman of the RFDS so I’m really looking forward to hearing what he’s got to say. And I’ve heard the coastline around Bateman’s Bay is spectacular.

Meet Deb at the following events:

Saturday September 10: Time 3 pm to 4 pm

The Royal Flying Doctor Service & Outback Life

Deb Hunt (Love in the Outback and Australian Farming Families) talks with Ian Campbell about the important role the RFDS plays on outback life.

Saturday September 10: Time 5.30 pm for 6pm to 7 pm

Free event

4 X 5 minutes

Four authors, four readings, four sets of literary trivia. Join us for drinks, trivia and book-readings. Authors Deb Hunt, Meredith Jaffé, Paul Hetherington and Rod Jones, give short readings from a work of their choice. In between, tease your brain with four sets of literary trivia. Prizes to be won.

Sunday September 11: Time: 9.30 am to 10.30 am

Memoir: Telling true stories

How does a writer distinguish memory from fact or determine truths long buried with their teller? Author Meredith Jaffé facilitates a lively discussion with Annabel Morley, Deb Hunt and Rod Jones.

 

 

 

Festival Workshops Announced

Marion Roubos-Bennett, Festival Director, Events and Program Coordinator today released details of the great line up of workshops that will be available to those lucky enough to secure seats. Only 20 places are available at each workshop,

Full details of these Workshops are available on our website.

Holders of Platinum Early Bird Tickets will be the first with an opportunity to book these workshops, and for them the Workshops are Free (normally $22).

Chris Andrews is presenting two workshops at the 2016 Festival.
Foundations of story and structure, covering how readers engage with story through character and structure ― without both, a story will fall apart.
Creating Compelling Characters, giving you the essential hands-on toolkit to ensure your readers care about what happens to your characters, even the ones they hate.

Pippa Carron is presenting two workshops

From getting started to getting published, a go-to-whoa workshop will begin with techniques to overcome writers block and describe how to set up essential writing support systems

Self Editing for fiction and non-fiction writing. Your writing will benefit from an in-depth understanding of what it is that editors do.

Rae-LuckieDr Rae Luckie is also presenting a workshop Writing Life Stories – Memories of Place at the Festival. While we focus on character and events in life story writing, place is sometimes neglected. Place is not just a physical location—places are imbued with memories.

Paul Brunton

Paul Brunton

Paul Brunton
Another fabulous facilitator and author returning to the festival is the equally inimitable Paul Brunton. 

Paul is Emeritus Curator at the State Library of NSW in Sydney, and Honorary Associate of the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry at the University of Sydney. Paul is well known among rare book-lovers and archivists, for his contribution to Australian history. He worked with the Mitchell Library’s Australiana collections, has a special Interest in the European discoveries in the Pacific and was responsible for the acquisition of a number of significant manuscripts and printed books on this subject for the Mitchell Library. In his 40 years at the library, Paul presided over the acquisition of more than 40,000 collections and millions of items. These include Brett Whiteley’s affectionate letters to his mother Beryl; First Fleet midshipman Newton Fowell’s 12 long letters to his father in Devon; Patrick White’s desk; and the George Bass collection.

Paul’s publications include his annotated edition of Flinders’ letters, Matthew Flinders: personal letters from an extraordinary life, and he edited The Diaries of Miles Franklin, author of My Brilliant Career and founder of the most prestigious literary award in Australia. 

Paul will again be moderator for the special opening night debate on Friday 9 September. Believe me you will be in for a treat.

Paul Brunton, Emeritus Curator, Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW Sydney holds a prized volume, The Voyages of Captain Phillip.  

Sarah Rice

sarah_rice_headshotSarah Rice is a Canberra-based art-theory lecturer, visual artist and writer. She has won numerous awards including the inaugural Ron Pretty poetry award, Bruce Dawe poetry prize, the Writing Ventures International Competition and the Gwen Harwood poetry prize.
And she has been short-listed and long-listed for many more, among them the CJ Dennis poetry award and the Canberra University Vice Chancellor’s Prize for Poetry.
Sarah’s limited-edition art-book of poetry Those Who Travel is held in the National Gallery of Australia and other private and public institutions.
Sarah’s publications include Best Australian Poetry 2012 and 2015, Long Glances: A Snapshot of new Australian Poetry 2013, The House is Not Quiet and the World is Not Calm: Poetry from Canberra and many poetry anthologies.
She is often invited to give poetry readings and runs workshops in conjunction with national art institutes. She also writes poetry in collaboration with visual artists such as photographers, ceramicists, print-makers, and glass-artists.